EU sanctions Putin oligarchs, spokesman over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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Feb. 28 (UPI) — The European Union on Monday sanctioned more than two dozens people, including Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, in retaliation over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions blacklist a total of 26 oligarchs, businessmen, high-level military personnel and propagandists, including Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian state oil giant Rosneft.

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According to EU documents, Sechin is accused of being a close advisor to Putin with whom he is in daily contact.

Sechin “is considered to be one of the most powerful members of the Russian political elite,” the EU said in explaining the reason for his inclusion. “His connections with Vladimir Putin are long and deep.”

Nikolay Tokarev, the chief executive of major Russian oil and gas company Transeft; Alisher Usmanov, who has been called one of Putin’s favorite oligarchs; and Petr Aven, an important shareholders in Russian Alfa Bank and is one of some 50 businessmen who meets with Putin regularly, were among those identified.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, several Russian ministers and film director and journalist Tigran Keosayan were also named.

The only entity added Monday was gas industry company SOGAZ over its issuing of insurance to the construction of railway infrastructure that consolidated Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

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The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans.

“With these additional sanctions, we are targeting all who are having a significant economic role in supporting Putin’s regime and benefit financially from the system,” Josep Borrell, the high representatives for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with the European Commission, said in a statement. “These sanctions will expose the wealth of Putin’s elite. Those who enable the invasion of Ukraine will pay a price for their action.”

The sanctions were imposed a day after the EU announced it would be providing Ukraine with lethal arms, including fighter jets. It also banned on the overflight of EU airspace by Russian carriers of all kinds and prohibited transactions with the Russian Central Bank.

Democratic countries have been imposing sanctions against Russia following its large-scale invasion of Ukraine last week.

“I underscore that Ukraine craves for peace, but as long as we are under Russia’s assault we need more sanctions and weapons,” Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Monday.